Temeraire – Naomi Novik

This was another one of those books I spotted while doing a bit of random browsing[1]. It looked like it might be entertaining, so I ordered it from Amazon recently[2]. Temeraire is set during the Napoleonic wars in the early 19th Century, only this fictional 19th Century has a slight difference from ours: dragons. Now as a Welsh :cymru: person, I tend to have a soft spot for dragons[3], so I was keen to read this. There’s a quote on the cover from the ubiquitous Stephen King, comparing it to a cross between Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell[4] and the sea stories of Patrick O’Brian. Not having read O’Brian’s work, I’m not sure about that. The connection to Susanna Clarke’s work is tenuous at best, though.

The story opens with a British warship, the Reliant capturing a French vessel. In its hold is a dragon egg, which will hatch long before the ship can return to port. And that is a problem. A newly hatched dragon will form a bond with the person who harnesses it soon enough, or else it will become feral. As dragons are vital to Britain’s war effort, Captain William Laurence decides that one of his officers must attempt to harness the dragon when it hatches. Lots are drawn, and the responsibility falls to a junior officer.

But the dragon has other ideas, and instead chooses to bond with Laurence, who names him Temeraire, in honour of a Navy ship.

Laurence and Temeraire join the Aerial Corps and prepare to take their part in the war against Napoleon. Along the way we meet an interesting collection of characters (humans and dragons) and events build to a dramatic climax.

It’s all good fun: perhaps a little clichéd in places, but not enough to put me off. A second novel is due out later in the year.

Note for American readers: in the US, Temeraire was published as His Majesty’s Dragon

[1] Note to self: do more random browsing
[2] Nice discount off the bookshop price, and it made the order big enough to get free delivery :smile:
[3] I enjoyed the earlier Dragonflight books by Anne McCaffery
[4] Which I read, enjoyed and reviewed last year